Breast reconstruction surgery is performed on women who have lost one or both of their breasts due to breast cancer or traumatic injury.

When is breast reconstruction used?

When a lumpectomy, mastectomy, or double mastectomy has been recommended to treat breast cancer, a plastic surgeon can play a key role in guiding you through reconstructive options, performing the necessary procedures and caring for you postoperatively.

Breast reconstruction after a breast cancer diagnosis is fully or partially covered by most insurance companies. The Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA) of 1998 includes requirements that insurance companies cover all or part of the cost of reconstruction of the breast following a mastectomy.

It also provides for reasonable correction of breast asymmetry. Before performing breast reconstructive surgery, we can work with your insurance company in an effort to obtain financial approval for the procedure.

How is breast reconstruction performed?

Breast reconstruction may include a breast implant, the use of your own tissue (flaps), or a combination of both. The type and timing of breast reconstruction should factor in other potential treatments (such as chemotherapy and radiation) as well as your body shape, life activities, other medical conditions, and personal preferences.

Intermountain Medical Group plastic surgeons work with patients to determine when breast surgery works best for each individual. Immediate, or primary, reconstruction may allow for preservation of chest skin and may help reduce some psychological anxiety associated with a mastectomy. Delayed, or secondary, reconstruction is available to women who would like to wait and for women whose treatment prevents immediate reconstruction.

What results can I expect?

The final results of breast reconstruction following mastectomy can alleviate the physical and emotional impact of that surgery. Scar lines will improve and some breast sensation may return over time.

© 2018 Intermountain Healthcare. All rights reserved. The content presented here is for your information only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and it should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

A female nurse in blue scrubs talks with a female patient in a clinic exam room

Autologous Breast Reconstruction

Autologous, or "own-tissue", reconstruction transfers tissue from one area of the body to the site of the mastectomy to recreate a breast mound that appears as anatomically and aesthetically normal as possible.


DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction

DIEP flap reconstruction restores the breast using skin and fatty tissue from the lower abdomen below the level of the belly button, along with blood vessels from under the abdominal muscles, which effectively results in a "tummy tuck" as well.


Fat Transfer Breast Reconstruction

Fat Transfer, or fat grafting, removes fat from one area of the body and grafts it to the site of the mastectomy to recreate a breast mound. Using a patient's own tissue means there is no risk of the fat graft being rejected by the body.


Implant-Based Breast Reconstruction

Implant-based breast reconstruction is a common option among mastectomy patients. Benefits may include a shorter operative time, a shorter hospitalization (if any at all), no additional surgery from a donor site, and faster initial recovery.

Other Breast Reconstruction Flaps

There are three additional "flap" options for breast reconstruction; SIEA (superficial inferior epigastric artery) Flap, S-Gap (superficial gluteal artery perforator) Flap, and Latissimus Dorsi Musculocutaneous Flap. Each of these options uses a flap of tissue from a different part of the body.

Tram Flap Breast Reconstruction

The TRAM, or transverse rectus abdominis musculocutaneous, flap uses the tissues of the abdomen below the belly button, including part of the stomach muscle.